26 OFWs return from strife-torn Libya

MANILA, Philippines – Twenty-six Filipino migrant workers returned safely to the Philippines from Libya on Tuesday, February 3, bringing to 4,604 the total number repatriates from the strife-torn country under the government's mandatory repatriation program.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) announced the arrival of the repatriates on Friday, February 6.

From Tunisia,  Filipino workers boarded a Qatar Airways flight to Manila on Monday, February 2 – two days before 3 Filipino workers were among those abducted by armed men, believed to be connected with Islamist militants, who attacked the oilfield where they were working.

OWWA said the latest batch of returning Filipinos brings to 4,604 the total number of repatriates from Libya, one of 4 areas that the Philippine government has placed under Alert Level 4 due to volatile security and unrest.

On July 20, 2014, the government declared Crisis Alert Level 4 in the North African country, which means a mandatory pullout of all Filipinos  there, and a deployment ban on workers.

Benefits

The Department of Budget and Management had released an additional P50 million ($1.11 million) to the Department of Foreign Affairs for the mandatory repatriation of Filipino workers in all 4 strife-torn areas – Libya, Iraq, Gaza, and Syria.

The government, through its labor agencies, has maintained it does not discriminate against migrant Filipino workers without proper travel documents in terms of the subsidized mandatory return.

OWWA Officer-in-Charge Josefino Torres said the returnees were each provided a one-time P10,000-assistance under the Financial Relief Assistance Program (FRAP), aside from temporary shelter, transportation to the provinces, and counseling, among others.

However, benefits such as the P10,000-reintegration package to OFW-returnees are exclusively granted to OFWs with existing records of leaving the country for work.

Other repatriated OFWs from Libya may also apply for FRAP at any OWWA Regional Welfare Office in the Philippines where they reside, provided they present the following:

Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar Binay, presidential adviser on OFW concerns, gave his assurance that the government is closely monitoring the situation of the 3 missing Filipinos in Libya, and reiterated his call for Filipinos in Libya to come home– Rappler.com 

US$1 = P44.5